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Electric Independence

Hallelujah. After 11 years of stalking the fringes, one of the country's leading independent labels, DC Recordings, has finally got round to releasing its first compilation.
August 1, 2006, 12:00am

DC Emperor Machine Mountain Of One Emperor Machine, again Hallelujah. After 11 years of stalking the fringes, one of the country’s leading independent labels, DC Recordings, has finally got round to releasing its first compilation. Neatly coinciding with the vogue for all things spaced-out and freaky, it’s called Death Before Distemper and features all your favourite new eccentric British psych-rock and cosmic disco groups, such as Emperor Machine, Padded Cell and White Light Circus, as well as freshly minted electronic oddities from Kelpe and Depth Charge, who started DC in 1995. Recently Vice spent a morning with Depth Charge AKA Jonathan Saul Kane and DC’s label manager James Dyer, who also makes strung-out dub as Stromba, in their cluttered office above the Intoxica record shop on Portobello Road. James is normally really chatty but he didn’t say that much this time. He let Jonathan do all the talking, which was fine because this guy’s been both “down with the scene” and “ahead of the game” since the early-80s (when he was in his teens) and has seen so many trends come and go it’s little wonder he occasionally sounds slightly jaded. Vice: Have you got any stories from “back in the day”? Jonathan: In the early-80s, there was nothing here. We picked up everything from New York or Jamaica and interpreted it in a London way which was quite interesting. The warehouse scene was interesting: people had to get off their arses and go and find it. Now you just turn up and the bar’s free. Everything’s free. Music’s free. You don’t pay for anything. So it’s difficult for labels now because everything’s free. If you wanted to download our stuff for free, you could go to a site and do so. So everything’s too easy today? Now you can have everything at the click of a mouse. It’s a funny thing. It’s very un-English. All the great artists and athletes and great people who’ve come from England in the past have always been suffering; had no help from anyone. Seb Coe and those guys had no sponsorship, they just got up and ran because they wanted to be the best. Not a lot of people know that you were in Bomb The Bass during the peak of their late-80s fame. I used the name Grimm Death then. I did a remix of “Beat Dis” on the first album and then did a lot of the second album. I played live with them in Europe too, which I wouldn’t say was fun. I’m glad I did it but I don’t want to be in a band again. Out of 70 releases on DC, only one is by a girl, and that’s “Bad Ass Reputation” by Crazy Girl, who’s crazy. Why is this? Hmm, hadn’t thought of that before. Maybe girls are scared of DC. One sign that a band is extremely serious about what they do is when, having conducted an interview with one of the members, they text you a brief list of their “musical references” just in case you might have got the wrong idea. The band in question is A Mountain Of One, a marvellous new London-based ensemble whose debut five-song EP, “1”, taps into that rich seam of flowery cosmic electronic prog that started with the first incarnation of Pink Floyd and flowed through Fleetwood Mac, Vangelis, Santana and Steely Dan. The text from Mo Morris, former curator of swanky parties, Simon Pegg-lookalike and A Mountain Of One’s keyboardist and programmer, read: “Alan Parsons Project, Talk Talk, Ashra Temple, Peter Gabriel are good refs”. This much is obvious from one listen to “1”, which quickly sold out its first run of 600 silver-sleeved 12-inches but is soon to be repressed. A second EP, “2”, is out next month, followed by “3”, and then a CD early next year. If you’re into Lindstrom, Quiet Village and the more out-there artists on DC Recordings, and are intrigued by the pioneers of this easy going narco-disco sound like DJ Harvey and Daniele Baldelli, then you’ll fall in love with A Mountain Of One. Three of their songs, “Ride”, “Warping of the Clock” and “Can’t Be Serious” (a cover of a Baldelli favourite sung by Martina Topley-Bird), already sound like vintage Balearic classics. “It’s all about escapism,” says Morris, who writes the music with seasoned cats Leo Elstob and Zeben Jameson. THEYDON BOIS